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Former PM John Turner dead at 91

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TORONTO — Former prime minister John Turner, whose odyssey from a “Liberal dream in motion” to a political anachronism spanned 30 years, has died at the age of 91.

Marc Kealey, a former aide speaking on behalf of Turner’s relatives as a family friend, says Turner died peacefully in his sleep at home in Toronto on Friday night.

“He’s in a much better place, and I can say on behalf of the family there was no struggle and it was very, very peaceful,” Kealey said.

Politicians and other public figures immediately began sharing memories of Turner and expressing condolences to his family.

“A gifted politician, lawyer, and athlete, Mr. Turner became Canada’s 17th Prime Minister after having served in numerous other capacities,” Prime Minister Justin Trudea said in a written statement.

“Mr. Turner was a humble man with a strong social conscience. He supported many charitable organizations, including Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. He was also an honorary director of World Wildlife Fund Canada and an ardent advocate for the protection of Canada’s lakes and rivers.”

Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole also offered his condolences, writing on Facebook, “Track star, lawyer, parliamentarian, but most importantly father and patriot, his contributions to Canada are profound and his legacy assured.”

Former prime ministers Jean Chretien and Paul Martin both spoke of their one-time colleague’s love of Parliament.

“More than anything, John was a House of Commons man and an outstanding public servant. He revered our democratic institutions like no other and served his constituents and Canada with great distinction. He will be greatly missed. My sincere condolences go out to his wife Geills and to his family,” Chretien wrote.

Smart, athletic and blessed with movie-star good looks, Turner was dubbed “Canada’s Kennedy” when he first arrived in Ottawa in the 1960s. But he failed to live up to the great expectations of his early career, governing for just 79 days after a difficult, decades-long climb to the top job.

“The most unfortunate thing to happen to anybody is to come in at the top in politics,” Turner said in 1967.

“The apprenticeship is absolutely vital. And yet, the longer the apprenticeship, the more the young politician risks tiring the public. So that by the time he’s ready, the public may be tired of him.”

His words were prophetic.

Despite his missteps, Turner guided the Liberals through some of their darkest days in the 1980s. His right-of-centre contribution to party policy would help pave the way for fiscally conservative prime ministers Chretien — his longtime rival — and Martin.

Turner’s journey began as a dashing young politician with the world at his feet and ended nearly 30 years later when he could no longer overcome his image as a relic of the past.

There was a dichotomy to Turner’s life. He was a jock who studied at Oxford and the Sorbonne, a staunch Catholic who defended the decriminalization of abortion and homosexuality and a Bay Street lawyer who campaigned against free trade — describing it as the fight of his life.

“There were two Turners. There was the thoughtful, intelligent John Turner who was kind of an intellectual,” former aide Ray Heard said in an interview several years ago.

“But there was another side to him. … There was John the jock, who used to love watching NFL football with us, who sometimes drank too much, who used to put on his red cardigan and sit in his office having a good time,” he said.

“So there was these two Turners, and sometimes these two Turners were in conflict with each other.”

Born in England, John Napier Wyndham Turner emigrated to Canada in 1932 after the premature death of his father Leonard.

His young, well-educated and driven mother, Phyllis Gregory, moved the family to her hometown of Rossland, B.C., and then to Ottawa a year later, where she climbed to the top ranks of the civil service.

She married wealthy businessman Frank Mackenzie Ross, who later was lieutenant-governor of British Columbia.

An Olympic-calibre track star, Turner graduated from the University of British Columbia in 1949, winning the Rhodes scholarship to Oxford University. After studying law, he went to Paris to work on a doctorate at the Sorbonne.

The young lawyer caused a stir when he danced with Princess Margaret at a party in 1959, giving rise to speculation that the two would become a couple. Heard said the two remained friends for life.

Turner moved to Montreal to practice law but was lured into politics by Liberal cabinet minister C.D. Howe, who asked him to help in an election campaign. Turner won a seat in 1962, representing the Quebec riding of St-Laurent-St-Georges.

He would later hold seats in two other provinces, Ontario and British Columbia, a feat unmatched since William Lyon Mackenzie King.

In 1965, he was named to cabinet by Lester Pearson, as a minister without portfolio. Two years later, Chretien and Pierre Trudeau joined cabinet, with Trudeau landing the plum post of attorney general and minister of justice. Turner toiled in the unglamorous job of registrar general, while Chretien languished with no portfolio.

It foreshadowed a rivalry that would divide the men in the years to come.

A few months later, Turner finally landed Consumer and Corporate Affairs, a ministry he convinced Pearson to create.

He once compared his job to that of a hockey star.

“Tonight you scored a goal and you’re a hero, tomorrow you let a goal in and you’re a bum,” he said in 1967. “And that’s politics.”

But Turner was well-liked on Parliament Hill, playing squash with opposition members and once, walking across the House of Commons to comfort a New Democrat who had just confessed to having a serious criminal record.

He saved then-Opposition leader John Diefenbaker from drowning while on vacation in Barbados, having unintentionally booked a stay at the same resort.

He married Geills McCrae Kilgour, the great-niece of Col. John McCrae who wrote “In Flanders Fields” and the sister of longtime MP David Kilgour, in 1963.

The two had a daughter, Elizabeth, and three sons, David, Michael and Andrew.

Turner ran to succeed Pearson in 1968, but lost to Pierre Trudeau. Even when it was all but certain he would lose, Turner stubbornly stayed in the race until the fourth and final ballot.

As justice minister in Trudeau’s cabinet between 1968 and 1972, Turner proposed a national legal aid system — an issue close to his heart — and created the Federal Court, among other reforms. But he was also put in difficult positions that sometimes challenged his personal beliefs.

He defended martial law and the suspension of civil liberties during the October Crisis of 1970, as well as the decriminalization of homosexuality and abortion in the 1960s.

“Those of us who support the bill recognize that there are areas of private behaviour which, however repugnant, however immoral, if they do not directly involve public order, should not properly be within the criminal law of Canada,” he said at the time.

He was named finance minister in 1972 and held the job for three turbulent years, marked by high unemployment and high rates of inflation. He left politics in 1975, which some believed was over his opposition to Trudeau’s decision to implement wage and price controls after the 1974 election.

Turner spent nearly a decade as a corporate lawyer on Bay Street before returning to politics after Trudeau resigned.

He won the 1984 Liberal leadership race, a divisive contest that pitted Turner against Chretien. The rift their rivalry created within the Liberal ranks plagued Turner for the rest of his career.

“Chretien and his people launched, almost from Day 1, a war of attrition against John Turner,” said Heard.

“Chretien’s people kept stabbing him in the back. They had coups and counter-coups going on. I spent more time dealing with caucus revolts inspired by the Chretien people than I spent opposing Brian Mulroney and his government. It was a ludicrous situation.”

Turner triggered an election just nine days after being sworn into office, forgoing the chance — some say foolishly — to host a visit by the Queen and another by the Pope that would have given the new prime minister golden opportunities for glowing, wall-to-wall media coverage.

The campaign was a disaster. The party wasn’t prepared to run a campaign and was mired in organizational problems. Chretien’s supporters were staging caucus revolts. And Trudeau’s parting gift — patronage appointments — would be Turner’s undoing.

But his outdated sensibilities landed him in trouble too, when he was filmed patting the rear end of Liberal party president Iona Campagnolo, who patted his bottom right back.

However, it made Turner look sexist and out of touch, and his unrepentant defence — calling himself a “tactile politician” and dismissing it as a joke — didn’t help matters.

The breaking point came during the 1984 election debate, when Turner was forced to defend Trudeau’s appointments, saying he had no option but approve them.

“You had an option, sir — to say no,” Mulroney said.

Turner, an expert debater, never recovered.

But he won a seat in Vancouver and led the Opposition Liberals for six more years.

The 1988 election provided a rematch with Mulroney over the Canada-U.S. free trade agreement, which Turner vehemently opposed, later calling it the fight of his life.

He triumphed in the debates, eloquently turning free trade into a referendum on Canadian sovereignty. But he faced mutiny from senior Liberals who wanted to dump him mid-campaign and choose another leader.

Turner didn’t win, but the Liberals recovered, doubling their seats in the House of Commons. He resigned in 1990 and quit politics three years later, joining a Toronto law firm.

Despite his declining health, he was a mainstay at many Liberal events. He gave speeches reminding the party of its golden years, sprinkled with wild stories about life on the political trail.

Throughout his political career, he stuck to his convictions, took up unexpected causes — like legal aid and free trade — and kept the Liberals together during some of their darkest days.

Bad timing stopped Turner from realizing his full potential as a great prime minister. In the end, the public tired of him before he reached the top.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 19, 2020.

Source:- CP24 Toronto’s Breaking News

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Family members of PS752 victims report receiving threats for speaking out against Iranian regime – CBC.ca

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Canadians who lost loved ones when Iran shot down Flight PS752 earlier this year have been reporting an increasing number of threats warning them against criticizing Iran’s response to the disaster.

“These are ugly, insidious crimes, apparently orchestrated at the behest of a foreign power. That is something that would be disturbing to every Canadian,” said former MP Ralph Goodale who is acting as Canada’s special adviser to the government on the incident.

Goodale says two cases of intimidation and harassment were reported to police in the spring. The number of such incidents of which authorities are aware has now increased to 11, he said. RCMP, local police and security organizations are working with Canada’s allies around the world and taking the threats seriously, Goodale added.

Hamed Esmaeilion lost his nine-year-old daughter Reera and wife Parisa when PS752 was shot down by the Iranian military over Tehran on Jan. 8, killing all 176 people aboard. He’s the spokesperson representing an association of victims’ families in Canada seeking justice and he said he has been receiving hateful messages for months.

‘Let’s talk about the last moments of your wife and daughter’

But the situation escalated after a rally he held on Parliament Hill on Oct. 5, he said.

A suspicious vehicle loitered outside his house that night, pulling up in front of his driveway and then backing up, Esmaeilion said. He also reported receiving a suspicious phone call on Oct. 5 from someone who left a message saying, “Let’s talk about the last moments of your wife and daughter.”

Esmailion said he blocked the number but received a threat in Farsi through his Instagram account later the same day: “Your name is on a list of terror, so enjoy your life before you get killed. And you would be a lesson for out of country traitors.”

Esmailion said he met with RCMP on Friday and was told to keep a record of further calls.

“It doesn’t scare me, honestly,” he told CBC. “This is something we have been through since the beginning and especially in the month of May and June … That was, I think, the peak of insulting and hateful messages that I received.”

He said he believes the messages are coming both from Iran and Canada but he has no idea whether they’re from representatives of the Iranian regime or just from its supporters.

Mahmoud Zibaie, who also lost his wife and daughter when PS752 was shot down, told CBC News that he received a call from someone identifying themselves as the chief investigator of the military court in Iran dealing with the lawsuit for compensation launched against the regime.

Mahmoud Zibaie’s wife Shahrzad Hashemi, left and daughter Maya Zibaie, both perished on flight PS752. (Submitted)

Zibaie said the caller told him that he needed to return to Iran to participate in the suit for compensation. He said the compensation is low down on the list of what he wants from Iran.

“In some sense, I can say that I can regard it as a threat because he … kept telling me that, ‘Okay, we have to see each other. You have to get back to Iran. You have to come here and you have to launch a lawsuit,'” he said.

Zibaie said he plans to share the audio of that call with the RCMP.

Javad Soleimani of Edmonton lost his wife on the flight. He said he is not taking the threats seriously because he has no family left in Iran but worries about those with family back home who could be targets for harassment or persecution.

“These threats and families harassment, actually, have been something ongoing from the very beginning,” Soleimani told CBC News. “From hijacking the funeral routine, writing congratulations on your martyrdom on the coffins, and also … detaining some family members in Iran.”

Javad Soleimani and his wife, Elnaz Nabiyi, who was killed when Iran shot down flight PS752. (Submitted photo)

“It’s I think it’s a national threat to Canada,” he said. “I think the only way to deal with these intimidation or threats or concerns for families is that the Canadian government more publicly support families of victims.”

Goodale said the federal government is taking the threat very seriously.

“It is an offence against Canada, It is a crime under the Criminal Code, and foreign interference attacks the very sovereignty and integrity of our country. So it is indeed treated with gravity it deserves,” he said.

The RCMP issued a statement today saying that it is “aware of allegations of intimidation of the grieving families of the PS752 and we take such complaints seriously.”

“While we cannot comment on individual cases, Canadians and all individuals living in Canada, regardless of their nationality, should feel safe and free from criminal activity,” said the statement.

Watch: Families of Flight 752 victims report threats from Iran:

Loved ones of Canadians and permanent residents who died in the crash of Ukrainian Airlines Flight PS752, say they’ve received a growing number of threats believed to be from Iran and inside Canada. 2:04

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Canada expecting uptick in excess deaths amid COVID-19: StatCan – CTV News

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OTTAWA —
Canada is expecting to see an increase in excess deaths as COVID-19 cases are once again trending upwards, according to Statistics Canada.

Between March and June 2020, as COVID-19 spread across the country, Canada saw over 7,000 excess deaths. That figure refers to deaths that exceed the number that would normally be expected during any given period of time.

While these excess deaths skyrocketed in the early months of the pandemic, there was a brief dip in July, when these figures returned to a normal, pre-pandemic range, which according to Statistics Canada falls around 21,000 deaths per month.

Meanwhile, there were over 170 COVID-19 deaths in August and September respectively — but by the time the first 10 days of October were over, Canada had already reported 244 deaths.

That means there were more COVID-19 deaths reported in those 10 days than were reported in the months of August or September.

“Overall, if the similarities between public health surveillance figures and official death data persist through the resurgence of cases, Canada will likely experience an increase in excess deaths in October,” the publication on the Statistics Canada website explains.

Statistics Canada says that these figures can be an important indicator of both the “direct and indirect effects” of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While the direct effects include deaths attributable to COVID-19, the indirect effects relate to measures put in place to address the pandemic,” the agency wrote.

“These measures could cause increases or decreases in mortality, such as missed or delayed medical interventions, fewer traffic-related incidents, and other possible changes in behaviour such as increased substance use.”

In its publication, Statistics Canada said it based its findings on “an updated provisional dataset from the Canadian Vital Statistics Death Database” as well as the Public Health Agency of Canada’s COVID-19 Outbreak Update.

It gave the caveat that this data only includes deaths that provinces and territories have reported to Statistics Canada, meaning reporting delays could impact the figures. The data also doesn’t include Yukon. However, Statistics Canada said they adjusted to account for incomplete data “where possible.”

The agency asserted that the figures “provide an important benchmark for understanding the potential impacts of the resurgence of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities across Canada.”

Excess deaths by province

The charts below plot the number of deaths reported by provinces on a weekly basis from the beginning of January until the end of September. The data is provisional, and because of reporting delays, do not reflect all the deaths that occurred during the reference period. Ontario, for example, shows a steep drop in deaths during the summer months of 2020, but that may be partly due to delays in reporting.

Years before 2019 are represented by faint grey lines behind the chart. Numbers have not been adjusted for populations growing year over year.

 

 

2020

 

 

2019

 

 

past years

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ginella Massa to join CBC News Network as primetime host – CBC.ca

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Journalist Ginella Massa will join CBC News Network as the host of a new primetime show, the Crown corporation announced Wednesday as part of programming changes over the next few months.

“She’s just got a spark and curiosity to her that is refreshing at a time when there’s so much to be interested in, and so much that is sort of unchartered in terms of the kind of journalism we do, the kind of stories we tell,” said Michael Gruzuk, CBC’s senior director of programming. 

Massa will also join CBC’s flagship news program The National as a special correspondent, as well as take part in “many of our CBC News specials,” according to an internal CBC memo.

A graduate of Seneca College and York University, Massa is currently a reporter for CityNews in Toronto. In 2019, she was part of the CityNews team that won a Canadian Screen Award for best live special for coverage of an Ontario leaders’ debate.

She has also worked with CTV, NewsTalk 1010 and Rogers TV, moving from behind the scenes as a news writer and producer to in front of the camera as a television journalist. 

Massa, a Seneca College and York University graduate, will work as a special correspondent for The National alongside hosting on News Network. (David Misener/CityNews)

In 2015, she became the first hijab-wearing TV reporter in Canada, and then the next year, the first to anchor a major newscast in the country.

Massa said she hopes to use her new CBC role to focus on stories from different perspectives — be it race, religion or class. 

“For the last decade of my career in journalism, both behind the scenes and on air, I have often been the only one who looks like me in the room,” Massa said. 

“I do try to bring those perspectives to the newsroom … bring the stories that people around me are talking about, which aren’t always the stories that get the most attention.”

Beginning in the new year, Massa’s hour-long show will air weeknights at 8 p.m. ET on CBC News Network.

New programs

Her hiring comes alongside a number of other changes on the cable network. 

On Nov. 1, it will launch Rosemary Barton Live, a two-hour Sunday program focused on federal politics, followed by the premiere of CBC News Live with Vassy Kapelos, a weekday “fast-paced roundup of breaking political and Canadian stories” on Nov. 2, the internal memo said.

Kapelos will continue to host Power and Politics, which moves to a new time slot of 6 p.m.-8 p.m. ET on weekdays.  

CBC journalist Carole MacNeil will host a new weekday afternoon show on News Network, which will be “more programmed” rather than focusing on breaking news that just happened, Gruzuk said.  

The changes come weeks after Barbara Williams, CBC’s executive vice-president of English services, announced 130 job cuts across the country. That included 58 news, current affairs and local positions, with most of them in Toronto.

The company cited higher costs and lower revenues as the reason for the cuts, precipitated by a $21-million budget deficit. That shortfall was, in particular, “due to declines in advertising and subscription revenues linked to our traditional television business,” Williams wrote in a letter to staff.

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